A couple months ago Carol and I were approached by the Washington State Patrol to participate in a training video they are producing as a DUI training tool for law enforcement agencies. They wanted a couple victim’s families to tell our stories in order to motivate officers to engage and arrest more DUIs. Although it MAY seem like a slam-dunk, many patrol officers are hesitant to actually arrest DUIs because the process pulls them off the street for three hours. Booking, paperwork, court messes. All that kind of stuff.
Carol and I sat there in front of the camera with those little mics hooked up to us and just dumped our guts out for 45 minutes. We started with that….night. The unanswered texts, the knock on the door, Carol and Amy screaming and the post-it note the deputy handed me with SnoCO medical Examiner’s number on it. We told of the Clark County Deputy collision investigator we heard testify that those notifications are like knocking on someone’s door and tossing a hand grenade in their house.
Then we talked about writing your child’s obituary, planning her service, how her classmates had such a shocked look on their faces. People their age are supposed to get married, divorced have children, have miscarriages, get jobs etc. They are NOT supposed to die. I told them of going up to Sheena’s room to get some photos and finding her hoodie with the shirt inside, holding it to my face and I could smell her. It was almost like I was hugging her. I thought My GOD! Is this normal? Am I losing it?
We told them of Amy. That she still has meltdowns. She always says the same thing. “Why Sheena?” I can’t answer that. She says “It’s not FAIR!!” I can’t argue with that. I always had the reassurance that when we die, Sheena would be here to look after her little sister. That went away that night. My brother never had children, Amy can’t HAVE children. That night the Blair name died with Sheena. 600 people came to Sheena’s service, 400 went to Tony’s. That’s 1000 people besides us who had their lives affected.
Then we were asked how we would motivate officers to DO the DUI arrests. I reminded them that vehicular homicide is a violent crime, that they are NOT accidents and then I gave them a couple “what-ifs”. What if an officer had noticed that woman swerve over the fog line or going a little UNDER the speed limit and pulled her over. We would not be sitting there with broken hearts. What if an officer was following her and she swerved a little and did NOT get pulled over because the officer didn’t want to screw with the paperwork? How would that officer feel if they found out that vehicle later killed two people and permanently maimed two others?
We were asked what our memories of her are. I told of when she was born the nurse handed me this screaming bundle. When our eyes met for the first time, she stopped crying. I knew at that moment she was a daddy’s girl. I remember when she was a toddler she would fall asleep on my lap and I could feel her breath on my chest. I can still feel her little hands gripping my fingers when she was taking her first steps. How I could make her laugh SO hard, she would sit there silent with her mouth wide open and tears running down her face until I would poke her to make her breath. We had the type of bond that when we were just sitting there we would know what the other was thinking.
I miss her staunch advocacy for those who are picked on and her passion for the underdog. I miss her laughter and being her confidant. The world will never know what she could have accomplished had someone been able to intervene that night. IF I would have told her one more joke, IF I had hugged her again, IF I had said I love you one more time that…. night.
We poured our guts out for 45 minutes. They might use a couple minutes. Maybe none of what we said. IF they decide to use ANY of it, I pray it might motivate that ONE officer to pull that ONE person over that might save that ONE family from have an officer knock on THEIR door and toss that horrid hand grenade in THEIR house.